Boat tragedy off the coast of Sicily
At least 100 African migrants drowned after the fishing boat carrying them capsized off the coast of Sicily.
Reports say the boat reportedly was transporting around 500 illegal migrants from north Africa.
Thousands of immigrants seek the southern shores of Italy every summer hoping for better life in Europe.
The boat reportedly caught fire and sank off an Italian island.
Reports say an estimated 300 people are dead or missing and there are 150 survivors. The boat was carrying Eritrean and Somali asylum seekers.
According to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, an estimate of 8,000 migrants and asylum seekers arrived on the coasts of southern Italy in the first half of this year.
US Saddened By The Tragedy
In a press statement in Washington DC, Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said the United States is saddened by reports of nearly one hundred migrants drowning in the Mediterranean when their boat capsized after a fire.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to all affected.” – Ms. Harf
She says for the thousands of migrants who cross treacherous paths each year in search for asylum or opportunity, desperation often outweighs the risks associated with the journey itself.
The United States calls on the international community to work to prevent such catastrophes to these vulnerable migrants, she added.
Tragedy at sea for migrants
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that more than 1,500 people drowned or went missing while attempting to cross the sea from Africa to reach Europe in 2011.
UNHCR states that the Mediterranean Sea has become the deadliest stretch of water in the world for migrants and refugees.
The UNHCR says 2011 is the deadliest year for the region since UNHCR began recording the statistics in 2006.
More than 200 migrants were reported to have drowned on their way to Italy in April 2011. Media reports indicate that 213 people, including many Somalis, Eritreans and Ivorians, died after the boat in which they were travelling experienced difficulties in rough seas near the Italian island of Lampedusa. The boat was from Libya.
The Mediterranean Sea is connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land. On the north, it is enclosed by Europe and Asian Turkey, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant. The sea is sometimes considered a part of the Atlantic Ocean, although it is often identified as a completely separate body of water.